May 30th, 2024


Hooray for Columbus Day

Greg Crosby

By Greg Crosby

Published Oct. 7, 2016

Hooray for Columbus Day

In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

He had three ships and left from Spain;
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

He sailed by night; he sailed by day;
He used the stars to find his way.

A compass also helped him know
How to find the way to go.

Ninety sailors were on board;
Some men worked while others snored.

Then the workers went to sleep;
And others watched the ocean deep.

Day after day they looked for land;
They dreamed of trees and rocks and sand.

October 12 their dream came true,
You never saw a happier crew!

"Indians! Indians!" Columbus cried;
His heart was filled with joyful pride.

But "India" the land was not;
It was the Bahamas, and it was hot.

The Arakawa natives were very nice;
They gave the sailors food and spice.

Columbus sailed on to find some gold
To bring back home, as he'd been told.

He made the trip again and again,
Trading gold to bring to Spain.

The first American? No, not quite.
But Columbus was brave, and he was bright.

That poem used to be taught in elementary schools as a way of commemorating Columbus Day on October 12, the day Christopher Columbus landed on Watling Island in the Bahamas, thus discovering the "New World" and marking the beginning of European colonization in the Americas.

Columbus Day is celebrated in many countries but it wasn't until 1937 that it became a federal holiday in the United States, even though Americans have celebrated Columbus's voyage since the colonial period. In 1792, New York City and other U.S. cities celebrated the 300th anniversary of his landing in the New World.

In 1892 President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people of the United States to celebrate Columbus Day on the 400th anniversary of the event. At that time teachers, preachers, poets and politicians used Columbus Day rituals to teach ideals of patriotism. These patriotic rituals took themes such as citizenship boundaries, the importance of loyalty to the nation, and celebrating social progress.

Columbus Day now, like just about everything else in our society, has become controversial. Liberal multiculturalism and history revisionism has sought to make Columbus a villain and use Columbus Day to make a social justice statement, as example Alaska, Hawaii, South Dakota, and Oregon, which do not observe Columbus Day at all. South Dakota celebrates the day as an official state holiday known as "Native American Day."

In 1992, on the 500th anniversary, the the city of Berkeley, California replaced Columbus Day with "Indigenous People's Day." Since then several other places have followed including Sebastopol and Santa Cruz, California; Dane County, Wisconsin; Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Seattle, Washington. For the Left a day without bashing traditions is like a day without sunshine.

Italian-Americans observe Columbus Day as a celebration of their heritage, the first occasion being in New York City on October 12, 1866. San Francisco's Italian Heritage Parade claims to be the nation's longest running, while New York boasts it is the largest. October 12th is a source of cultural pride for these Americans, and it should be.

Politically correct multiculturalism aside; Christopher Columbus is worthy of our commemoration. What Columbus achieved was a big deal and changed the world forever. He introduced Europeans to the New World, which led to cultural exchange, commerce, and exploration, and eventually to the discovery of the real westward route to the Indies. Yes, he discovered America and out of that, much later of course, came the birth of the United States.

Furthermore without Christopher Columbus we wouldn't have Columbus Ohio. We wouldn't have the District of Columbia. We wouldn't have Columbia University. We wouldn't have the country of Columbia. And we wouldn't have Columbia Pictures, which means we wouldn't have had the Three Stooges. Think about that. Without Chris, no Larry, Moe, Shemp, and Curly. How sad would that have been?

Happy Columbus Day!

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. He's been a JWR contributor since 1999.